Where the US had the Warped Tour, the UK has tried to replicate the excitement of a one day festival with outlandish line ups.
It became clear that we got the formula right with Slam Dunk. Since its humble beginnings in 2006, spawning from a club night, it’s now the main event on any pop punker’s calendar with dates in both the north and south of England as well as a spin off in France. Just because the main event happens across borders from us, doesn’t mean Scotland misses out. They’ve long had one off events in the run up to the festival that take place across the country. Tonight we’re getting treated to such a teaser with Zebrahead, Teenage Bottlerocket, [spunge], and Millie Manders and the Shut Up.
Because of the four-strong line up, doors are at 6.30 tonight and just to complicate matters there’s a named storm that’s made ScotRail so afraid that they’ve cancelled all routes after 7pm. Will the prospect of not getting home afterwards put people off this impressive lineup? Well… I’m still here – and ten minutes before doors so were ten others. Tonight is a night for the hardcore.
Millie Manders and the Shut Up are a band I’ve wanted to see for some time but the stars never really aligned. Now it’s clear that the wait was worth it. We have the newest wave of punk ska and the new part is that it’s even angrier. My only issue is that I don’t know whether to headbang or skank to this band and that’s a good problem to have.
The angriest parts of the songs have an almost hair metal feel to them which isn’t as cheesy as it sounds. It’s huge sounding gloriousness which a ska punk audience can bathe in quite happily.
[Spunge] or perhaps just Spunge as the new logo suggests is a blast from my past. I spent many a night in someone’s smoke filled bedroom listening to these guys and if you ever spent a summer’s day in a skate park with teenage me, I promise you’ve heard their big hit ‘Kicking Pideons’ being played from one of those big CD players that are sadly now associated with people’s grandparents.
This band haven’t changed one bit in those decades. Through the whole set, I could practically smell my teenage bedroom. I can’t promise that’s a good thing. Each song is note perfect and if you came for some of the old school, this is where it’s at. A nice nod to Terry Hall and cover of ‘Monkey Man’ lands nicely too. For half an hour we’re in the presence of home grown legends.
Continuing on the topic of legends… Teenage Bottlerocket are a band that should be playing huge stages every time they come to Glasgow but have recently played Audio and Sleazy’s. Nothing wrong with that… but in the grand scheme of things, this band have certainly earned the right to play to big crowds. Opting to soundcheck before they start the set – “we’re too punk to soundcheck when we’re supposed to”- they bring a thrashy “if Screeching Weasel were more punk” rock with more energy than a dozen dirty bombs.
It does fall into pop/skate punk but only just. It’s the most aggressive form of this band and the perfect center of the Venn diagram of great genres. Big hit ‘Skate or Die’ is an obvious hit and this set is the first of the night where the crowd have really moved. There’s jumping off drum risers and swinging guitars about to catchy hooks and by God we need more shows like this in Glasgow. This is one act that will be hard to follow.
Zebrahead are a band that always seems to be the bridesmaid but never the bride. Any time I see them play they’re opening for another band but tonight they get their chance to shine. Well polished party punk with singing, rapping, and bubbles shot from guns wielded by skeleton clad crew is fired into the audience and this crowd are loving it.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but Zebrahead seem louder than the other acts and that’s heightening the performance as the crowd are returning that energy. The duel vocals mean each song is relentless and fast paced rapping from frontman Ali is beyond impressive. Zebrahead are pretty much a combination of the best bits of each act tonight. Punk, ska, pop… bits of everything mixed into a very alcoholic cocktail and no one is practicing dry January tonight.
We also need to talk about how well organized tonight is. A four band bill with super fast change overs and the whole left hand side of the venue is like a merch marketplace. This really is a bite sized festival and it’s probably made up a lot of minds with regards to making the trip down for the main event.
Photos by Catching Light Photography